In a predictable fashion I often read a flurry of activity in photo forums, social media sites and photography blogs about the latest and greatest camera body announcements. This predictability is dictated by the fact that modern cameras are as much computer as they are anything else and have a regular upgrade cycle much like traditional computers. Hard hitting discussion points about frames per second, megapixel resolution, battery life, image sharpness and so on fill the tubes of the Internet with bonus debates about one camera body/make being better than another. I’m sure you’ve seen the same as it’s incredibly difficult to avoid.
The funny thing about photography is that the majority of people viewing photographs don’t care about the gear. They care about the connection they make with the subject and the body of work produced by the photographer. I don’t recall ever reading how Edward Weston’s photos, for example, sucked more or less because he used a Graflex 4×5 camera versus an 8×10 camera. The same is true of Watkins, Muybridge, Adams, Hyde, Porter, Cartier-Bresson, Lange, Evans, etc. What mattered most in the great work of these and other artists was the vision, creativity and consistency of excellence.
Fretting over camera models and their specifications is great for the purchase decision, but it’s nothing more than a void of distraction when it comes to developing one’s creative vision. I’ve followed the development of digital cameras since 2000 and the same discussions predictably repeat themselves again and again. Yet I’ve never heard a conversation about older digital photographs being considered a classic or of historical significance because of the model of camera used. If anything such a conversation centers around the subject of the photo, the photographer’s creativity and body of work.
Imagine if we consistently talked about the creative merits of photographers as we do new camera models and their features. As an example Weston 1925-1935, Adams 1940-1945, and Gursky 1999-2001 versus Nikon 4D, Canon 1D X and Phase One IQ180. Talking about how and why a photographer was at their creative pinnacle is far more likely to inspire a photographer to think creatively than worrying if a camera has 21, 36 or 60 megapixels.
So my proposition to you is the next time you start up a debate about a camera model and its latest features ask yourself if you’d be better served having a more difficult discussion about photography styles, techniques, philosophies, approaches, etc. that might just enhance you’re development as a creative artist instead. If the answer is yes, then seek out and strike up a conversation with someone that will help you develop as a better photographer versus a camera model savant.
[tags]photography, philosophy, creativity[/tags]